by Elliot Lyons
This message is for all the men out there who read and listen to the material on this site.
In light of the recent accusations of sexual assault, harassment, and rape against Harvey Weinstein and the subsequent reinvigoration of the #MeToo campaign, I thought it critically important to take time out and address a point that’s lost on most of us: we are all, each and every one of us, in some way complicit in the continued oppression of women.
I know what you’re thinking: “I’ve never done stuff like Weinstein—that’s horrible.” And I hope you haven’t, but there are countless “small” things we all do that make women feel uncomfortable.
It’s the catcalling on the street, it’s the way we stare when we see a woman in a low-cut shirt, it’s us persisting in asking a woman out after she’s said no, it’s the not-so-sneaky photo we take of an attractive woman and send to our friends, it’s believing that there are a lot of women and girls out there lying about sexual assault because they just want to bring us down, it’s our shaming of promiscuous women, it’s our intentionally touching a woman just above her butt when we’re manoeuvring through a crowd, it’s our calling women and girls b*tches.
It’s the surprise at the existence of the Weinsteins of the world when an estimated one out of every three women on this planet have experienced sexual and/or physical intimate partner violence or have been on the receiving end of sexual violence from someone who isn’t their partner during their lifetimes.
But most of all it’s our silence, both in terms of us failing to call out harassment and sexism and in not taking the time to learn all the ways we make women feel uncomfortable, and then beginning to unlearn these ingrained habits.
None of us is perfect in this, none of us—not a one—is innocent.
I would know because as much as I’ve been battling unlearning the sexism that permeates our world for over half of my life, I’m still getting called out, I still sometimes look at women in ways I know makes them uncomfortable, I still mansplain sometimes and a host of other things.
I have to do better. We must do better. Doing better means taking responsibility for our part in perpetuating sexism and swallowing our pride and committing, or re-committing, to unlearning it. Then putting into practice what we’ve learned and demanding the same of each other without expecting women to give us credit for what we should be doing in the first place.
We all have to do the work, and the work never stops.
You can start unlearning sexism, and lots of other isms, here: